5 Tips for Delivering Assessments During Covid-19

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

While assessments are an essential component of education – they’re not one size fits all! It’s important to deliver online exams that best suit the type of learning that took place for your students. In the online space, you have a wide variety of assessment techniques available. This assortment can enable you as an instructor to deliver the most efficient and effective exams to assess your students’ progress.  Here are 5 tips for delivering assessments in an online environment.

1.Prioritize Informal Assessments

Informal assessments are often used in the traditional classroom by a simple means of asking questions to students. With distance learning, informal assessments can occur just as simply in the form of online discussions boards, quizzes, essays, and asking questions through synchronous Zoom meetings. You can use many online learning tools for informal assessments that engage your students and check for understanding.

2. Use Turnitin for Written Assignments and Essays

Written assignments such as essays and research papers are a great method of determining student comprehension.  Turnitin is a plagiarism detection software system that helps to maintain academic integrity standards, so that you can ensure there is no misuse of information or plagiarism. Simply have your students submit their papers through the system, to take the guess work out of plagiarism!

3. Use Respondus Products for High Stakes Assessments

While it is recommended that high stakes tests are not administered at this time, we do understand that a midterm or a final exam will still need to be delivered. Respondus Lockdown Browser® is a customized browser that increases the security of test delivery while students access an exam. It prevents their ability to print, copy, go out on the web, or access other applications. Respondus Monitor enables use of a webcam and flags suspicious activity while a student is taking an exam.  When using these tools, it is important to administer a practice test using the browser before the actual exam. There are other products on the market that may also assist with test security.

4. Be Mindful of Timed Exams

Often times, faculty may end up providing students with timed exam to deter cheating. However, timed exams can potentially create unnecessary stress for students as their focus may be on speed rather than knowledge. Should you need to deliver a timed exam, it is best to consider providing students with the same time allotment as you would in your traditional classroom space.

5. Check in Frequently With Your Students

With all of us going through a tough time at the moment, it’s important for instructors to remain informed on students current situations as certain situation will directly impact their academic standing.  Student value the opportunity to interact and hear from you. Let your students know that they are not alone by sending an announcement, or email to check-in.

This transition to online learning has forced many of us to think differently about the way we teach. While we are all doing our best to adapt accordingly, it is important to keep in mind that many of us are stressed and/or facing difficult situations. Doing you best to keep students on track, while empathizing with the current state of the things will improve communication and sense of community among you and your students. 

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

5 Ways Online Students Can Create a Distraction-Free Study Zone

The following is a guest post by Bailey Caldwell, a freelance journalist specializing in education. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

Studying is hard for everyone. It’s difficult to get into the groove and hit a stride and where you study makes all the difference. For online students, getting into the zone can be especially tough since they don’t have the discipline of attending class in-person or the freedom to study on campus.

If you’re an online student, you need to create a distraction-free space where you can focus, push yourself, and still relax. But don’t fret! We’re here to help.

Here are five tips to get you started.

  1. Dedicate a study space.
  2. Get rid of distractions. 
  3. Take brief breaks.
  4. Switch up your playlist.
  5. Invest in fast, reliable internet.

#1. Dedicate a Study Space

Designate a space in your home as your dedicated study zone. Instead of bouncing between your bed, kitchen, or desk, pick a single spot you reserve solely for studying. Over time, your brain will recognize that space as a place to study, and it’ll become more natural to concentrate.

To start, make your space appealing. Hang up inspirational quotes. Bring in lots of lights. Add a plant or two. Create a space that you want to be in. If your apartment is an icebox or sweltering sauna, pick up a portable heater or fan to make it more comfortable.

Even if you’re at home all day, following your routine and getting dressed in the morning will help you catch your groove easier. The act of changing your clothes and starting your day as you would typically helps wake up your brain and signal that it’s time to get moving.

#2. Get Rid of Distractions

A distraction-free study zone can help you retain more information and produce higher-quality work. The only problem? It’s especially tricky for online students since they decide their schedule.

To start, put your phone on airplane mode. Turn off your phone, unplug from social media, and go offline while you’re studying.

The flash of a new text or ping of a new notification can throw off even the best of students. Before you dive in, put your phone on airplane mode or Do Not Disturb mode. This will disable any calls, texts, or notifications and still let you use your phone as an aid while studying. 

If you’re studying at home, put down your gaming console, iPad, or any other distraction. Keep them in a separate room or stash them out of sight. If you’re heads-down in a public area like a library or coffee shop, put some headphones on and steer clear of noisy areas. Find a private room or distance yourself from the crowd.

#3. Take Brief Breaks

Once you’ve created the perfect study space, get out of it. No, seriously. Even if it’s a stroll over to the kitchen or a walk around the block, taking periodic breaks while you’re studying will help you be more productive.

But here’s the caveat: keep your breaks short. Longer breaks make you more likely to get distracted. The point of a break is to rejuvenate your mind so that you can go back into studying refreshed and refocused. Do something that takes five to fifteen minutes—take a walk, make some food, call your mom.

If you’re writing an essay, taking a break enables you to write better. Stepping away from your screen allows you to look at the piece again with fresh eyes. It also helps you establish a healthy cadence. The faster you go, the more likely you are to burn out.

#4. Switch Up Your Playlist 

Swap country music for classical music. Or acapella for ambient noises. Studies show that classical music is the best music for studying. Classical, instrumental, and ambient sounds can help people better focus, retain more information, and spark creativity.

A little Bach never hurt nobody, right?

Classical music also helps put you in a more relaxed and positive mood. So even if you’re stressed about an upcoming project or exam, classical tunes can help cool you off.

(Pro tip: If the thought of listening to Mozart’s symphony bores you, try searching for the instrumental version of the songs you like.)

#5. Invest in fast, reliable internet

A stable internet connection is paramount to success in an online course. Don’t let a buggy connection disrupt your flow (or grade). Prevent your internet from going down by investing in fast internet.

Even if you prefer to study outside your home, it’s always smart to invest in reliable internet since you never know when you’ll need it. Plus, you can’t always bank on a coffee shop or neighbor’s Wi-Fi.

It’s also smart to look at your laptop’s storage limit. Make sure your laptop has enough storage to handle everything from Science 3600 to English 101. If you’re continually saving documents or archiving lectures, you’ll need it.

Author’s Bio: Bailey is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on all things tech, cybersecurity, and internet. She enjoys researching and learning about new resources and technologies.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

5 Essential Steps to Study for an Online Exam

The following is a guest post by Robbie Marquis, a college student. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

College is one of the busiest phases of a student’s life. There are so many things to keep in mind and balance that you tend to lose time for other parts of your life. Of course, right now, your studies are your top priorities, but if you ever find yourself cramming for some last minute studying, remember that it definitely will be a difficult task to undertake, but with enough focus and determination, nothing is impossible. To make it easier for you to retain everything that you study, here are some steps that you can take.

1. Turn Off Social Media

Social media has definitely changed how we see our world nowadays. It has altered the way we stay updated about the ins and outs of the current world and the way we keep in touch with the people around us. Essentially, social media has become a very important tool for us to stay in the loop and create new acquaintances.

But if you have errands to do, books to read and online exams to pass, then you will need to keep yourself from checking your social media feeds in the meantime. Whether it is your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other platforms that you use for social connections, if it won’t help you focus on your studies or even pull your attention away from it, it’s better to leave it alone until you are done with your online exams.

Social media has made a reputation on its own for affecting the focus of many students and even affecting their scholastic performances. So if you want to keep your focus on nothing else but your studying, then stay away from any gadgets that may allow you from opening your accounts. Turn off your phone, laptop and other online devices and stick to reading and memorizing your lessons to make sure that you pass your exams.

2. Gather All Your Materials Before you Cram for an Online Exam

There is nothing more frustrating and panic-inducing than knowing that you don’t have all your study materials available. Not to mention that it’s affecting your study session! So it’s ideal to always keep all your books and notes in one place and ready to use at all times. And if you have an exam coming up soon, get all of your materials ready beforehand.

Aside from getting your documents ready, it’s also best to always have your study station ready and available for your sessions. Keep your desk clean and make sure that the only things you have available on your table are your books, notebooks, pens and papers, or if you have notes on your laptop, then you might want to keep that handy, too. Take away anything that might distract you and once you have started studying, you should just focus on getting yourself ready for your upcoming online exams.

Another good thing that you should do is for you to get some important details about your upcoming exams. Once it is announced that you have an online exam coming up, you should write down the exam’s location, date, and time.

It will also be helpful if you can find out what its focus will be as it can help you understand what you have to study and retain. Some professors give out some pointers beforehand, but if it’s something that is not available, you might want to ask your professor to provide these details to you and your classmates as it can help you concentrate your studies only on topics that are covered.

3. Review All Your Notes or Flashcards One More Time

Whenever preparing for an online exam, you should never underestimate the importance of taking down notes or preparing cards to review everything that you have read and studied. By writing things down, you get to retain information better. By reading back the notes you have prepared, you get to refresh the information in your brain and hone your brain’s ability to easily recall information.

This is why it is essential to schedule a study session, either by yourself or with a group. There are, of course, pros and cons to both setups. If you study by yourself, you tend to get bored or get distracted and no one can tell you off or remind you to go back and focus on studying. On the other hand, by studying with a group, you have like-minded people to throw questions and answers to and to review your lessons with, but there is a tendency for the study sessions to veer away from what really needs to get done. But if you are really determined or focused on reviewing and absorbing as much information as you can, there will always be a way. All you need to do is focus, focus, focus.

4. Focus only on the Big Ideas & Key Details

Speaking of focus, did you know that you can teach your brain to be selective in the information that it retains? Instead of trying to cram every single information from a book into your brain, you can instead focus on the valuable information and tune your attention out from the unimportant details. This might sound challenging to some, but there are ways to improve your ability for selective attention.

First of all, you need to identify which of the topics you need to study are the most difficult to retain. Maybe you are doing well with Chemistry, but you need to improve your understanding of some topics in Calculus. By knowing which of the subjects are more challenging for you, you get to improve your focus and prepare your brain as to what needs to be prioritized.

Next, you should establish your goal. The good thing about online exams is that it usually provides the examinees with an introduction about what they will be looking forward to in terms of the exam proper. If you have that information ready, then you can easily shift your focus on what sections or chapters will be included in your online exams. It will also help if you have an idea about the style of the examination. Will it be multiple choice questions, fill in the blanks, essay style, or a mixture of each. By anticipating the challenges that you may encounter in your online exams, you’ll be able to identify what information you need to focus on.

Lastly, you need to keep yourself focused on nothing else but your study session. You might have a few other things on your to-do list, but by understanding the importance of passing your upcoming examination, you can keep yourself from doing other less important matters. By knowing what to focus on and what ideas or topics matter, your brain can then filter out all the unimportant information and just retain all the necessary details.

5. Set Goals & Rewards as you Study for an Online Exam

Studying for an exam involves a lot of focus and hard work. It might sound like it is an easy task to undertake, considering that all you need to do is sit down, read and write down some important stuff. But it takes a lot of energy for your brain to sponge in as much information as necessary in a short span of time. This is why, as much as possible, last minute studying is not always advisable.

Overworking your brain can sometimes affect your mental and physical health. You might have to sacrifice sleep hours, not be able to eat a proper meal, or even have to drink some carbonated, caffeinated or sugary drinks just to keep you going while you burn the midnight oil. By the end of your study sessions and online exams, you might feel so drained out. But you have done your best to ace your exams, so you deserve nothing but some much-needed R and R.

A good practice that usually encourages us to meet a specific goal is by giving ourselves a reward. It could be something like scheduling a relaxing weekend trip to a spa resort with your BFF or significant other if you pass your online exams. Or maybe you’ll throw a house party and invite everyone in your class to join you. Whatever reward works for you, it’s a good thing to give yourself a prize for accomplishing something important.

Whether you are trying to balance your life as a working student, as a parent pursuing a college degree, or as an active member of your college’s org, the fact remains that your study should always be a part of your list of priorities. Studying should always be a constant practice, so that you won’t have to stress yourself and tire your brain out by doing it last minute. A more relaxed and laid-back study session will help improve your focus on everything that you need to retain. This way you are ready, even for surprise quizzes or exams.

Whether you are preparing for a big online test or just for a weekly quiz, it’s still important to be in control of your studies. Remember that it will take a lot of time, energy and effort before you can get that much coveted diploma, so make every moment count. Who knows, if you are hardworking enough, maybe you can get rewarded with some honors on your graduation day!

Author’s Bio: Robbie served as the Vice President of the Student Congress at OU and has dedicated his collegiate time to representing the students. Some of Robbie’s other interests include writing reminders for himself on sticky notes and putting them everywhere, learning how to become a better leader, watching or performing spoken-word poetry, or doing things that inspire him.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Why are Assessments Important in an Online Course?

Assessments are an important aspect of any course. They allow students to interact with information that they learn, enable instructors to check students’ progress, and simply keep the class on track. In online environments, assessments play a crucial role due to the nature of the setup and the need to promote active learning.

In this video, Dr. Melissa Kaulbach of Faculty eCommons and Dr. Jeri Nowakowski examine how to best utilize assessments in an online course. They provide tips in moving beyond quizzes and essays and demonstrate how an assessment can cause a student to engage in learning and fully comprehend the subject at hand. In addition, they outline how creative, thought-out assessments can benefit the instructor and assist in creating a collaborative learning community.

To learn more about how effective assessments can change an online course, check out Dr. Melissa Kaulbach’s video below:

Source: Ed Tech Du Jour

15 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing Multiple-Choice Questions

Multiple choice test quiz

Multiple choice test quiz
Multiple-choice quizzes are a great way to test for student understanding. They’re easy to write and easy to grade.

That said, multiple-choice questions can sometimes be confusing and leave students scratching their heads, wondering what their professor intended to ask. In online courses, misleading or ambiguous questions can be particularly frustrating, since professors are not standing by to answer questions while students take the test.

How can professors write multiple-choice questions that will be easy for students to understand?

Follow these 15 Do’s and Don’ts while writing your multiple-choice quizzes to ensure that your tests are effective, straightforward, and leave no room for confusion.

DON’T:

  1. Use double negatives, such as “Which of the following is least unlikely to be a speculative purchase?” Double negatives can be very confusing to read.
  2. Use vague terms such as “often” “frequently” “rarely” “sometimes” or “might.”
  3. Write questions saying, “Which of the following is NOT…” or “All of the following are true, EXCEPT….” because students often misread those type of questions.
  4. Offer answer choices like “(a) and (b) are both correct” or “(b) and (c) are both correct.” This type of question can be very confusing to students whose brains are already overloaded with trying to remember a lot of material during the test.
  5. Use abbreviations unless you are certain that the entire class will know what they stand for.
  6. Write absolutes like “always” “never” “all” or “none,” unless you are absolutely sure that statement is true. If a student thinks of a possibility that violates the statement – no matter how far-fetched – they will think that the answer option is incorrect.

DO:

  1. Think about what learning objective you hope to achieve with each question.
  2. Group all questions on the same topic together.
  3. Group all questions with the same directions together – i.e. “True or False” or “Which of the following is true?”
  4. Make sure there is only 1 correct answer and all other answers are clearly incorrect. Students may be confused when they are instructed to choose the “best” answer.
  5. Make sure that your incorrect answer options are plausible.
  6. Write out questions in full sentences, rather than incomplete statement. For example, write “What are prokaryotic cells?” rather than “Prokaryotic cells are ______” Full sentence questions are easier to understand because the student knows what to expect before they look at the answer options.
  7. Present answer choices in numerical, alphabetical, or sequential order.
  8. Add bold, italics, underline, or capital letters to stress words that students might miss.
  9. Make sure that all answer choices are all grammatically consistent with the phrasing of the question and with each other. If an answer choice is not grammatically consistent, students might (correctly or incorrectly) assume that it cannot be the correct answer option.

Sources:

Using the Explain Everything iPad App to Give Feedback on Student Work

Explain Everything app logo

Explain Everything is a powerful iPad app that provides an interactive whiteboard for creating screencast presentations.

With the Explain Everything app, you can import documents, pictures, videos, sound files, or browser windows to your project, and then add drawings annotations, animations, or voiceover narrations. The final project can then be recorded and shared with other people.

Here are 4 examples of how instructors can use the Explain Everything App to provide feedback on student work:

  1. In this video, Mark Anderson goes through many of the tools included in the Explain Everything app. At 4:00 in the video, Mark starts to explains how you can use ExplainEverything for feedback, and the sample feedback itself begins at 6:20.

  2. Jon Tait demonstrates how he provides feedback on a student’s work using Explain Everything.

  3. T. Wood gives descriptive feedback on how a student attempted to solve a math problem. At 2:54, he gives handwritten feedback, and at 3:51 he gives the feedback in the form of an audio narration, together with Explain Everything’s laser pointer tool.

  4. Janet Neyer gives audiovisual feedback on her student’s paper.

Learn more about the Explain Everything app by watching these video tutorials.

* The Explain Everything logo is the sole and exclusive property of MorrisCooke.

Add Interactivity to Video Lectures with eduCanon

EduCanon logo

eduCanon logo

Want to prevent the “zone out” effect for students watching your video lectures online?

Try using eduCanon to keep your students awake and actively engaged. eduCanon is an online tool that allows professors to easily add questions at key points during video lectures. Simply upload a screencast, YouTube video, or Vimeo video to the eduCanon site, and choose where you want to insert the questions.

Students will better understand and retain their learning when they are forced to pause, reflect, and process the information before continuing on through the lecture.

To learn more about eduCanon, visit the eduCanon website, or watch the eduCanon introductory video, below.

Also see this interview with the co-founders of eduCanon from the EdTechTimes.

* eduCanon logo is the sole and exclusive property of eduCanon.